Stretching our legs

By |Published On: August 4, 2023|Categories: Europe, Svalbard|804 words|0 Comments|


Bjonahamna is a small harbour, beautifully protected from swell from all directions but the south by the old moraines of the Von Postbreen. On either side it is ringed by sandstone ramparts intermittently cut through by deep, narrow canyons that tumble down from distant glaciers through cliffs, avalanche slopes and scree to the sea. Altogether stunning, to say the least and the shore lines and canyons are all just begging to be walked and savoured.


The valley we hiked up in with SY Flying Fish.


The first walk we chose, together with the crew from SY Flying Fish, Heiko and Heike, was in the canyon closest to Bjonahamna. We crossed a broad delta before climbing a couple of steep and high moraines and entering the canyon.

Views back to the delta and Templefjorden, and to Von Postbreen.

Here we walked about mid-height along the scree slope. Sometimes the scree was firm under foot, sometimes it sank away underfoot – on such steep slopes those were definitely the times to hurry along.

Beautiful shapes, structures and colours along the way.

After a short while, we cut across the creek onto a central moraine where we could walk on its safer ridge line.

A break on top of the ridge line.

Looking down into the valley.

After a couple of hours, we had climbed past the junction between two glaciers to just below the eastern most of these.

Hard work after cruising for months on end!

The sun was shining, it was warm and four people, who had done little more than stand behind the helm of their yachts for the past few months, decided that enough clambering up and along steep unstable slopes was enough.

Scenery near the top of the valley.

We savoured the tranquillity, marveled at the splendour, and then, satisfied, turned around and headed back to our respective boats.


On our last day at Bjonahamna, we explored the moraine on the western side of the anchorage. This looked particularly interesting as it was covered in large boulders that had come crashing down the mountains. These were said to be also full of fossils.

SYs Flying Fish and Yuma in Bjonahamna, with moraine and boulders in the background. We’re motoring across the bay for our first hike (photo courtesy SY Flying Fish).

So after loading up our dinghy with all our polar bear repellents, we slowly motored ashore. This time by ourselves, as SY Flying Fish had already departed for Longyearbyen.

Rocky bits on the beach.

Once ashore, we looked at some of the valleys and thought we might climb up one of them.


Valley with very fresh rock-falls – we kept our distance.

However, getting closer we quickly changed our mind as very fresh rockfalls became evident, presumably caused by the rainfall the night before.

Staying on flat ground – fluffy white things would have been easily spotted!

Instead, we stayed on level ground and poked around in amongst the boulders for fossils and walked across to the other side of the moraine to scan for belugas. Fossils of some sort of molluscs we found, firmly embedded in the rocks. Belugas we did not see that day. What we did find, though not fossilized, were quite a few (old) bones of a variety of animals: birds, reindeer, seal, and others.


Walking on the moon.

Walking back to our dinghy, we checked out two cabins that were located at the bay’s shoreline. One had serious polar bear deterrent installed: barbed wire coiled around the wooden doors and window sills, and large nails hammered through the wooden window covers. Would this really stop a polar bear keen to get inside? Maybe it does – presumably Svalbardians have centuries of experience in trying to keep polar bears out of their dwellings.

One way of deterring polar bears.

The place also had some interesting bits of trash lying around. One of it was a fuel drum with ‘Wehrmacht’ stenciled on it. In WWII, the Germans had established weather stations all throughout the archipelago. This fuel drum was a sobering reminder of that time.

Reindeer resting on the beach.


The next day, the medium-term weather forecast looked reasonable for a return trip to Norway. So we decided to return to Longyearbyen to hand in our rifle and provision for the return trip to Norway.

Given the wind, we thought this trip from Bjonahamna to Longyearbeyn might involve some sailing. Silly us! No matter which direction we traveled in to get from our anchorage to Svalbard’s big smoke, be it southerly, south-westerly, westerly, or north-westerly, somehow the wind was always on the nose. Not wanting to spend a full day tacking back and forth, we once again engaged the iron sail and motored our way into Longyearbyen.

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